Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones essentially lost $8.4 million this offseason, as that’s the amount he stood to earn in 2017 had the organization picked up his fifth-year option. But that’s apparently not the only thing Jones lost over the past few months, as he reportedly dropped 20 pounds as well.
According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Jones, the team’s first-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, now weighs 250 pounds after weighing 270 pounds last season. It’s reported that he was asked to lose that.
With his fifth-year option not being picked up during the offseason, Jones has a lot of pressure on him to have a career year, as he’s now scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2017. During his talk with the media earlier in the week, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler was asked if Jones is motivated by the team’s decision to not pick up his option year.
“I hope he’s motivated, I mean he should be motivated, that’s the reason we did it,” Butler said in an interview that was aired on Steelers Nation Radio. “We like Jarvis. There’s nothing wrong with putting him in that situation. I’d rather put him in that situation to see how he responds, because in this league, it doesn’t matter who you play and who you are, you’ve got to perform under pressure. If you can’t perform under pressure you won’t be in this league. That is a cold, hard fact of the National Football League and so it’s a cold, hard fact with him just as it is with anybody else. You’ve got to perform and we look for him to perform.”
Butler didn’t stop there when asked about the team’s decision to not pick up Jones’ option year.
“If he had been an All-Pro, been to that dadgum Pro Bowl for three or four years, sure we’d try to get him done and get all of that stuff sewed up. But he hasn’t done that and so he’s going to have to play up to what we expect of him.”
What the Steelers expected from Jones was a lot of sacks, but so far the Georgia product has just 5 of them during regular season play since coming into the league after registering 28 during his final two years in college. While Jones has become a competent run defender on the right side of the Steelers’ defense as a platoon player, he’s still not as good as veteran James Harrison is at setting the edge. It goes without saying that Harrison is also the better pass rusher of the two. Harrison, by the way, is 38 years old. Jones is still only 26 until October.
We’ll see if the dropped weight winds up helping Jones in 2016, but personally I have my doubts it will, especially when it comes to his pass rushing abilities. The Steelers outside linebackers only produced 15 total sacks last season and that number needs to improve by at least 10 in 2016. Should Jones surprise a lot of us and wind up hitting double digits in quarterback takedowns, his weight will increase next offseason due to his pockets being stuffed with cold, hard cash from another NFL team.